FPRA Ocala chapter honors Image and Communicator of the Year award winners

Run for the PR Roses Mid-Florida Image Awards guests gather during an awards ceremony at the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ & Owners’ Association campus in Ocala on April 19, 2023. [Photo by John Nevarez]

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Posted April 21, 2023 | By Savannah Silliman

The Ocala Chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association (FPRA) recognized accomplishments in the fields of public relations and communications on April 19 at the Run for the PR Roses 2023 Mid-Florida Image and Communicator of the Year awards held at the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ & Owners’ Association in Ocala.

The Liquid Creative Marketing Agency won two image awards for public relations in the promotional/marketing and public service categories. They also won the judges’ award for their own Liquid Creative Marketing Agency campaign. A full-service digital marketing agency, Liquid Creative implemented a comprehensive marketing strategy with the goal to increase their agency’s full-service retainer clients in Ocala and Gainesville. They achieved this goal by positioning themselves as a strategic marketing partner. This campaign increased monthly retainers by 150% and revenue by 112%.

Matias Raby, Scott Schroeder, Jen Houser and Colin Holmes, of Liquid Creative, celebrate during the Mid-Florida Image Awards event in Ocala on April 19, 2023. [Photo by John Nevarez]

Tom James was honored with the Wilton F. Martin Communicator of the Year award, which recognized him for using his position to enhance Marion County’s community causes, advance the field of public relations, and uphold the ethical standards representing the Ocala chapter.

The Marion County Supervisor of Elections office received the Wilton F. Martin Communicator of the Year award in the institutional category. Institutional recognition is presented to a business or media outlet that has gone above and beyond to provide timely, accurate, and critical information to the community, and has demonstrated a mastery of communications skills and strategies.

The event was sponsored by FPRA chapters in Ocala, Lake County and Volusia/Flagler, C.L. Swag, Kaplan Advertising, A&A Campbell Group, Ocala Electric Utility and Liquid Creative.

About Tom James
For many decades, Tom James has put his communications skills to good use as an award-winning director, anchor, and freelance sportscaster. But it is his role as networking guru – for the Ocala Metro Chamber of Commerce (CEP), as well as myriad community organizations – that distinguishes James.

Toni James, a founding member of the Ocala FPRA chapter, former president and multiple award winner, congratulates her son, Tom James, named the Wilton F. Martin Communicator of the Year, during an awards ceremony on April 19, 2023, in Ocala. [Photo by John Nevarez]

Networking is defined as the process or practice of building up or maintaining relationships, especially with people whose friendships could bring advantages for job or business opportunities. James does that by leading networking programs for the CEP that include Net>Works groups, Leadership Council, CEO networking receptions, NetPerking, Business After Hours, CEP 101: Partner Orientation, and Networking University.

Dean Blinkhorn, the CEP’s chief operating officer said, “Tom is truly the voice of the CEP as co-anchor of ‘The Weekly Buzz,’ host of ‘A Closer Look,’ and as the voice of the 2020 Chamber of the Year’s on-hold messages.”

“Additionally, it’s Tom’s ability to communicate – and advocate – for this community that makes him the de facto goodwill ambassador for Ocala/Marion County.”

An awards judge said, “Tom James stands out not only because of his long and varied communications experience, but because, in addition to being a strong communicator, he is also a highly visible ambassador for our community, and a good one. Tom delivers a positive, upbeat message time after time and wins fans for himself and Ocala wherever he goes.”

An Ocala native, James also gives back to his community as an Elks member, Rotary Club member, and is a United Way and Salvation Army volunteer. His efforts impact not only Marion County, but other areas of the state, which include working with broadcasting students at Daytona State College and traveling to Fort Myers with Rebuild Southwest Florida in the wake of Hurricane Ian.


About the Marion County Supervisor of Elections Office
Supervisor Wesley Wilcox and his team led the charge to form an FSE public relations work group to develop communications and resources to combat misinformation, bolster voter confidence in elections, and identify election officials as the sources of trusted election information. The effort led to messaging being sent to each of Florida’s supervisors to distribute to candidates and elected officials with the message of “tone down the rhetoric.” The approach was considered extraordinary and received local, state, and national media attention with Wilcox being interviewed by media outlets including the “Ocala Gazette,” WCJB TV, CNN, Fox News, and NBC.

FPRA Ocala Chapter member Laura Byrnes presents the Institutional Communicator of the Year Award to Marion County Supervisor of Elections Wesley Wilcox and Outreach Services Representative Starley Ard, during an awards ceremony April 19, 2023, in Ocala. [Photo by John Nevarez]

The work group, again led by Wilcox, developed an elections integrity toolkit to equip supervisors throughout Florida with resources and materials to educate voters ahead of the 2022 election cycle. Supervisor Wilcox also initiated a meeting with Florida Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee to film a joint message announcing their partnership as part of the National Association of Secretaries of State’s nonpartisan #TrustedInfo campaign.

As part of ongoing business, the Marion County Supervisor of Elections office offers numerous guided tours of the local Election Center operations for elected officials, members of the media, business leaders, political clubs, and homeschooled students, educating all about the voting system and election processes. There are various public speaking engagements and a wealth of factual election information available on the Supervisor of Elections website, social media feeds, and at local outreach events within the community and schools.

An awards judge said, “One cannot communicate enough, especially clearly, when it comes to modern-day politics. Wesley Wilcox and the Marion County Supervisor of Elections team can stand tall and proud given their success at sharing current election laws and protocols and ensuring voters are informed and updated when it comes to casting ballots and making one’s voice heard.”


About FPRA

FPRA is dedicated to developing public relations practitioners who, through ethical and standardized practices, enhance the public relations profession in Florida. Today there are more than 1,000 professional, at-large and student members throughout the state and country. The FPRA Ocala chapter was established in 1980. For more information about the chapter, go to fpraocala.org

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